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Populating Mars

Posted by: Lancelot - Thu Oct 07, 2004 4:38 am
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Populating Mars 
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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:56 pm
This is starting to get compliated, two different conversations with different people mingled in the same thread but I will try to keep my thoughts in some sort of order.

TerraMrs

Not sure whether you are agreeing that with me that we are decades away from starting to create a Mars colony or not. I think it will be maybe 50 years before this starts to happen in earnest and only then if there are enough breakthroughs in propulsion and spacecraft design. This of course assumes no one comes up with anti-gravity or something else equally out of the box to make it possible sooner. I see the process taking decades to complete (or at least reach your 500 figure), so it could be something like 80 years before we get there.

With regard to manufacturing stuff on Mars, if launch cost come down they will supply from Earth and a lot will depend on the resources they find there. Shipping a bigger nuclear reactor to cope with a much bigger population could be an option but that indicates a long term plan being followed and I think that a colony will evolve rather than be constructed from a blueprint. Besides governments (and private industry for that matter) are notorious for doing things on the cheap and not giving big margins, you only have to look at the weight problems with Orion that NASA is having to see evidence of this.

Minthos

I agree about the politics but you may well find private companies being subjected to increasing levels of politics if there are anymore ITAR fiascos on the horizon.

SpaceX is possibly the touchstone for people advocating private industry driving space and to some degree I would agree but it is just one company and there need to more making the same sort of progress. They have reduced launch costs, but not by as much as was originally thought and more needs to be done by them and others. Another worrying trait is that companies I thought as leading the charge into space such as Scaled Composites and SpaceDev are being aquired by other companies.

I'm hoping to see a Falcon IX launch with a dragon capsule on it next year but will not be surprised if it is delayed and/or suffer a major failure, this will have a big impact on their business (much bigger than Falcon I because of the costs involved). But I still hope for the best. :)

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:19 pm
Hello, TerraMrs,

because of SpaceX, Ad Astra Rockets and other organisations, teams and companies doing development and research I suppose that farther advanced engines are closer than 100 years.

Reusable vehicles - not simply rockets - I consider to be the only choice and chance for the future - they will (have to) be capable of going to the farthest objects in the solar system and stop by at any planet between Earth and the farthest object of the particular journey.

Such vehicles really don't provide no mass penalty since the mass to more than 90% is the fuel and the oxydizer. Fuel and oxidizer should be consumed to a degree at launch out of a planet's orbit that only that amount is left that is required to enter the orbit of the next planet to fly to. There the vehicle will be refuelled.

This way the vehicle most of the time will carry a tank empty to a large degree - and this tank is very light as is known from the Saturn IVB the mass of which was at a tenth of the propellants it could be fuelled by.



Two hints regarding power on Mars: There is a thread about that and Earth seems to be running off uranium in less than 500 years.



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